Danger surrounded Fresno State closer Jake Shull in every direction.
The bases were loaded. The Bulldogs were clinging onto a two-run lead.
And Fresno State’s infield defense suddenly lost the ability to make a routine play, committing two errors in the ninth.
Shull needed to two outs.
He’d get them on his own.
Shull fired off back-to-back strikeouts and Fresno State held on for a 6-4 victory against San Jose State in a Mountain West series opener Friday night at Beiden Field.
Fresno State (12-11, 4-3) went the unorthodox route to victory, trotting out six pitchers on a night typically reserved of a team’s ace.
But Shull rectified it all despite a problematic ninth.
“That’s what you want out of your closer,” Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole said. “You want him to come in and let stuff go.
“The last couple of years, we wouldn’t have won this game tonight. The walks and the errors there at the end, it would’ve been too much for us to overcome. He just stayed locked in.”
Just Sunday, Shull took a 1-0 loss against UC Davis after the Bulldogs committed a fielding error in the ninth. Then on Friday he had to shake off three mistakes while the mound, including the two in the ninth. There was the fielding error at shortstop that allowed San Jose State to score in the ninth. Two batters later, the Bulldogs made a fielding error at second base that loaded the bases.
But against San Jose State’s No. 2 and No. 3 hitters, Shull locked in and got both Turtle Kuhaulua and Brett Bautista to strike out swinging.
“It was nice to get out of it, but I didn’t take it into my own hands,” Shull said. “I went up there and pitched to contact. It just happened to work out that way.
“I’m not thinking ‘I need to get the strikeout here. Stuff is going bad.’ It just happened.”
Fresno State starting pitcher Jimmy Lambert lasted only 2 1/3 innings, giving up three runs off three hits and a walk.
But the Bulldogs bullpen made up for the short outing, giving up just one run the rest of the way.
Kevin Viers and Austin Guibor each hit a home run for Fresno State.
The teams continue the three-game series at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.